Alice is on her honeymoon with Justin when she finds him gone, a few sentences on a goodbye note providing little explanation. Reeling, she returns home to Newcastle, UK, where she finds his things exactly as he left them. When she resumes her life at an art gallery, she meets an elderly woman, Evelyn, and the elderly dementia patient Evelyn cares for, Eddie. Alice and Evelyn bond over their love of art and their shared heartache. Alice is at a loss over the husband who cruelly abandoned her, and Evelyn is desperate to reestablish a connection with a man who has lost his memories and most of his words. Evelyn begins to share her story with Alice. Decades before, Evelyn met Eddie at a dance and the attraction is earth shattering and instantaneous, and yet Evelyn remains determined to run away to London and start her life away from the small town life Holy Island provided. Evelyn skips out on Eddie and eventually marries the upper crust Mark. All is well until a club dinner years later thrusts Evelyn and Eddie together again and the star-crossed lovers realize what they missed. They begin an affair, but when both decide to leave their spouses, fate intervenes. Evelyn’s story captivates the heartbroken Alice, but it’s only when Evelyn’s full story is revealed that Alice can start a new chapter in her own life.
This book is an amazing study in emotion. Hope, regret, loss, loyalty, anger, fear, pain, heartache, and redemption – they are all in there and beautifully rendered. You can palpably feel Alice’s bereavement and Evelyn’s regret. The emotions are superbly drawn. Alice and Evelyn both feel genuine, both battered by life’s circumstances and a great desire to do the right thing. Who can’t relate to that? The elephant in the room is that there isn’t a plot to complement them here. The plot is so weak that it lessens the raw emotional impact. Justin’s reasoning for leaving is downright unbelievable and the fact that Evelyn and Eddie have more than one “near miss” becomes tedious. The terribly convenient conclusion doesn’t help matters either. Ms. Mason displays expert skill at illustrating incredibly moving emotion. Now she needs a plot worthy of those feelings.
Amazon link is here.